We’ve been over what you should do if you’re faced with a bear. But there are also people in this world who know exactly what they would do in that situation—people who invite destruction into their lives and intentionally fight bears.
A video of the professional mixed martial artist Khabib Nurmagomedov wrestling a bear cub as a kid surfaced recently. Daily Mail has the video:
But this is is just one example of bear-on-man challenges. In 2006, a high school wrestler from Cleveland raised the hackles of the PETA by wrestling a bear named Caesar at the Cleveland Sport, Travel & Outdoor Show. Lance Palmer, a 19-year-old wrestler, managed to somehow pin the animal on its back and win the fight. USA Today spoke with Sam Mazzola, the man who owns Ceasar the bear:
Mazzola said bear wrestling has been part of his business — World Animal Studios Inc., in Columbia Station in northeast Ohio — for over 20 years, and he has no intention of stopping now. Most of his shows are at county fairs within the state. PETA says bear wrestling is banned in 20 states, but not in Ohio.
Palmer, the teenaged bear wrestler, told USA Today that Ceasar could certainly beat him if he wanted to:
Palmer, who gets paid by Mazzola, said he’s had a few scratches and bruises wrestling bears, but no serious injuries. He views it as another training method, even if there’s potential for danger. But he said animal rights activists are misguided. “Bears are probably eight times stronger than people,” said Palmer, who is headed to Ohio State as a collegiate wrestler. “If they wanted to, they could do a whole lot of damage to people. But if they are having fun, like Ceaser was, then they will play with you all day.”
It turns out that bear wrestling is a pretty old past time. This 1960 Sports Illustrated profiles of Tuffy Truesdell’s wrestling bear Victor. At io9, they point to these videos of various men taking on Victor:
It’s unclear what happened to Victor — he’s certainly passed away since the 1970s — but this semi-outdated site has some warm and fuzzy accounts from Victor’s sparring opponents.
It seems pretty clear that in a fair fight—where the bear wasn’t chained and muzzled, it would win hands down. It also turns out that they are much faster hot dog eaters than we are.
Forget about robot overlords, perhaps we should be worrying about the bears.
More from Smithsonian.com: